Home » Self-Publishing » 5 Tips for Self-Publishing Authors Writing Mysteries

5 Tips for Self-Publishing Authors Writing Mysteries

Mystery is a huge umbrella term encompassing various subgenres, including detective novels, cozy mysteries, and thrillers. Here are five tips for self-publishing authors writing in the mystery genre.

1 – Understand Your Sub-genre

While it may seem counter-intuitive, the readership of mystery books is not usually inclusive. Readers tend to enjoy a small number of sub-genres within mystery and gravitate to those books. Thriller readers don’t usually read cozy mysteries and vice-versa.

Due to the variety of mystery readers, self-publishing authors need to be very aware of the expectations of their subgenre. Readers in each subgenre expect certain tropes, custom book covers, and content. For instance, there is typically little to no violence, swearing, or explicit content in a cozy mystery. On the other hand, a thriller may have all of those things, even to gratuitous levels.

A cozy mystery detective will need to be motivated to get involved in solving their first case. In contrast, a private investigator or police officer doesn’t require such a connection to solve a mystery.

A thriller isn’t likely to include recipes or knitting patterns, but such things are almost a staple amongst the cozy mystery crowd.

A self-publishing author needs to figure out their sub-genre early on and make their book look like others in that subgenre in their storytelling and marketing.

2 – High Stakes Keep Readers Invested

The readers of mystery novels of all subgenres need to feel invested in solving the mystery. They NEED to care, or they will stop reading. Thrillers and police procedurals often do this by offering a ticking clock the protagonist must fight against to prevent further catastrophe. This can be anything from a kidnapped child to a serial killer stalking their next victim.

The mystery tends to be personal to the protagonist in a cozy mystery and certain other subgenres, such as romantic suspense. Someone they know might be accused of the crime, and they are trying desperately to clear their loved one’s name and win their freedom.

High stakes keep the reader invested and rooting for the mystery to be solved and the criminals to be punished for their crimes.

3 – Justice Must Be Served

Readers in the mystery genre want to see consequences for wrong actions, though those consequences don’t always have to involve the criminal ending up behind bars. Although that is a fitting ending.

Readers of mysteries want an ending that feels complete and gives them closure, even if the exact comeuppance of the villain isn’t spelled out.

Mystery readers tend to want to believe that there is still justice in the world, so a solved mystery with no consequences lets the reader down. There are a few rare examples where this is not the case, but in those instances, the reader is usually shown that the crime was committed for a good and just cause and that, while their acts might have been horrific, the criminal’s intention was justice.

4 – Develop the Protagonist

Even in sub-genres that are heavily plot-focused, the readers still want to see the protagonist of the story as more than a conduit showing readers the unfolding mystery.

A man with a magnifying glass signifying a detective character written by a self-publishing author

Mystery protagonists should still have friends, hobbies, family, pets, quirks, flaws, and all the other things that make characters interesting.

Too often, self-publishing authors get carried away with their excitement of the unfolding mystery and fail to deliver well-rounded characters.

5 – Plan

Mystery is a genre that lends itself to creating a detailed outline. Mysteries are complex. They have misdirects and red herrings. Mysteries are full of twists and turns that must all come together seamlessly at the end.

It is difficult, if not impossible, for most self-publishing authors to write a mystery without a thorough outline or multiple complex rewrites.

Mystery is a diverse genre that lends itself to various writers and readers. It is an excellent genre for self-publishing authors to write in.

InstantPublisher is a book printing and binding company that offers its authors a buffet of self-publishing services. For information about how InstantPublisher can help make your authorship dreams come true, visit our website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *